Skechers filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, on Tuesday, June 20, 2023, against footwear retail company Steve Madden alleging that the company infringed on Skechers’ “S” logo on Steve Madden’s “Kennie” sneaker.
Skechers was founded in 1992 and has become the third largest footwear brand in the United States. Skechers “boasts a collection of more than 3,000 footwear styles” sold in more than 170 countries and territories worldwide. They have used stylized “S” trademarks for decades to distinguish their products from their competitors. Skechers owns more than 40 federally registered trademarks bearing the “S” logo. The complaint contends that the logo has been used with such regularity and consistency that “consumers. . . have come to widely recognize not only individual registered and unregistered marks with Skechers, but also to associate solely with Skechers the use of a prominent, stylized ‘S’ on a footwear product that has sizing, proportions and placement similar to those of the ‘S’ Marks.” The complaint goes on to note different articles in which the media has associated Skechers with its “S” logo, arguing that the “S” logo and trademarks have become famous under the meaning of 15 U.S.C. § 1125(c).
Steve Madden, Ltd. was started by fashion designer and businessman Steve Madden in 1990. The company designs and markets shoes and fashion accessories online and in over 220 retail stores worldwide. Steve Madden sells the “Kennie” sneaker for $99.95. Skechers alleges that the shoe “bear[s] a confusingly similar version of the Skechers ‘S’ Marks” since “it is essentially a stylized ‘S’ of similar (if not nearly identical) proportions and thicknesses to multiple logos used by Skechers that has been rotated slightly counterclockwise and placed in the same location where Skechers typically places its marks.” The complaint argues that consumers will be confused as to whether Skechers offers the “Kennie” shoe since “[Steve] Madden is using this logo on similar products marketed to the same consumers in the same channels.” Further, regardless of any likelihood of confusion, the complaint states that “[Steve] Madden’s unauthorized use of a mark that is substantially similar to those of Skechers dilutes the distinctiveness of Skechers’ famous ‘S’ marks, in violation of both federal and state law.”
The complaint cites causes of action for: (1) federal trademark infringement under the Lanham Act; (2) federal trademark infringement and willful infringement of a registered mark under the Lanham Act; (3) federal unfair competition under the Lanham Act; (4) federal trademark dilution under the Lanham Act; (5) trademark dilution and injury to business reputation under state law; (6) violation of state unfair and deceptive trade practices statutes; and (7) common law trademark infringement and unfair competition.
Skechers previously sued Steve Madden in 2015 related to sneaker design patents. The two companies settled that lawsuit in 2016.
Skechers sues Steve Madden over sneaker logo trademarks, Reuters (June 21, 2023)
Skechers U.S.A., Inc. et al v. Steven Madden, LTD. et al (Case No. 2:2023cv04869)
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